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What is a venue transfer?

The process of venue transfer in family law can be intricate and may require legal assistance, especially in divorce or child custody cases. An experienced family law attorney can be invaluable in dealing with these complexities. The intricacies of a venue transfer often hinge on specific case details that need careful legal argumentation.

What is a venue transfer?

Circumstances Leading to Venue Transfer

Venue transfers are common when the original court location becomes inconvenient due to the movement of parties involved. Whether the relocation is temporary or permanent, transferring the case can simplify the legal process. However, in Texas, for instance, if a divorce case is filed, the court may prefer to keep the case in the original location, especially if significant case elements like property and children are tied to that area. Therefore, it is crucial to consider your long-term residency plans before initiating a divorce proceeding.

Challenges in Venue Transfer: Case Examples

Consider a scenario where your spouse files for divorce in Denton County, but you reside in Sugar Land. Although transferring the case to a more convenient location like Ft. Bend County might be beneficial for you, residency requirements can influence where a divorce can be filed. In Texas, a person must reside in the state for six months and in the filing county for 90 days before initiating a divorce. These residency qualifications determine the initial filing location, regardless of convenience for the other party.

Strategic Considerations

If you file a divorce in a specific county, such as Denton, it’s likely that the case will stay there, unless you can strongly justify a transfer. Proactive planning and understanding residency implications are crucial. Anticipating a potential divorce and filing first in a more convenient location can be strategically important. An experienced attorney’s guidance is often essential in navigating these situations.

Transferring a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship

Having discussed the rarity of transferring divorce cases, let’s explore the possibility of transferring a Suit Affecting the Parent-Child Relationship (SAPCR). Several factors determine whether you can transfer your SAPCR to a different court. Ideally, you should file your SAPCR in the county where your child resides, allowing a judge familiar with the local environment to handle the case.

If your co-parent and child move out of state after filing your SAPCR, a Texas court in your residing county will take up the case. Other factors influencing the chosen venue include the county where the child lives, the most convenient location for all parties if the child is out of state, or any county the judge deems most appropriate for the case.

Embracing Change: The Need for Modification

What is a venue transfer?

Life is in constant flux, impacting the dynamics of child custody arrangements. The needs of a 7-year-old differ vastly from those of a 14-year-old, prompting a reevaluation of existing custody orders. Texas law acknowledges this inevitability, allowing for court modifications when life’s changes demand it. These modifications are necessary when co-parents cannot mutually agree on adjustments.

A modification is essentially a new lawsuit, initiated after your initial child custody orders are in place. The court that issued the original orders retains ‘continuing exclusive jurisdiction,’ meaning it has the authority to oversee any changes to these orders. This continuity ideally allows the same court, familiar with your case, to handle the modification, although changes in judges are possible.

Exceptions and Special Circumstances

There are notable exceptions in the modification process. For instance, if all parties have moved out of Texas since the original order, a transfer of the case to a more convenient court may be warranted. This transfer requires an absence of consent to the original court’s jurisdiction.

Alternatively, a mutual agreement between co-parents to change the venue can lead to a modification. This could be due to unique circumstances, like a child’s medical treatment in a different county, prompting an agreed motion to transfer the case.

If one party remains in Texas while others have moved, the modification case typically remains in the Texan’s county. For example, if one parent still resides in Galveston County, modifications can be filed there, even if the other parent and child have moved to another state. This allows for adjustments to custody arrangements, like accommodating remote work schedules for more parenting time.

What About if You Had Child Custody Orders From Another State but Live In Texas Now?

Imagine you and your co-parent have child custody orders established in Tennessee, but now both reside in Texas. As time passes, these orders might no longer align with your family’s evolving needs. In such cases, seeking a modification is a natural step, but concerns may arise about dealing with courts across state lines.

Thankfully, Texas courts can modify child custody orders originally issued in another state. This process involves two key steps:

Registering the Orders in Texas: The first step is to register the Tennessee child custody orders with a Texas court. This legal procedure brings the orders under the purview of Texas jurisdiction.

Determining Jurisdiction: For Texas courts to modify these orders, the original issuing court in Tennessee must no longer have ‘continuing exclusive jurisdiction’ over the case. This loss of jurisdiction can occur in several scenarios:

  • Both Parents and Child in Texas: If you, your co-parent, and your child all live in Texas, the Tennessee court typically loses its jurisdiction.
  • Both Parents in Texas: Even if the child isn’t residing in Texas, the presence of both parents in the state can enable Texas courts to assume jurisdiction.
  • Mutual Agreement: If both parents agree, they can file a joint motion to transfer jurisdiction to a Texas court. This consent is often readily granted by the original court.

Choosing a modification under these circumstances frees you from the complexities of interacting with out-of-state courts. Texas law provides a feasible pathway to bring your case within local jurisdiction, ensuring that your child custody orders remain relevant and practical for your family’s current situation in Texas.

What is a venue transfer?

What Are the Actual Steps Involved in Transferring a Case to a Different Venue?

To initiate a venue transfer, you must file a motion with the court that issued your child custody orders. You can find the county name on the first page of your court orders. For filing details, contact the court directly or visit their website.

Serving your co-parent with notice of your motion forms part of this process. If both parties agree, sign the motion jointly and file it at the court. Stay informed about any filing fees to ensure timely payment.

Include an affidavit in your filing, detailing the reasons for the venue transfer. This affidavit should outline any changes like relocation since the issuance of the original orders. Provide specific details, get the affidavit notarized, and sign it in the presence of a notary.

Deadlines for Venue Transfer Motions

When filing a modification petition, submit your venue transfer motion concurrently. This enables the court to review both motions together and determine the necessity of a hearing. If you receive a petition to modify a child custody order, file your transfer motion by the first Monday following 20 days after receiving the petition. Be mindful of these timeframes as they can quickly become complex.

Questions about the material contained in today’s blog post? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan

If you have any questions about the material contained in today’s blog post please do not hesitate to contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week in person, over the phone, and via video. These consultations are a great way for you to learn more about the world of Texas family law as well as how your family’s circumstances may be impacted by the filing of a divorce or child custody case. 

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